Maxwell hits Williams over Como donation

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Dan Williams (left) is under fire from fellow 74th District State Rep. candidate Josh Maxwell for taking a campaign contribution from disgraced former Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Richard Como.

The revelation of a pair of April campaign contributions from disgraced former Coatesville Area School District (CASD) Superintendent Richard Como to Dan Williams has roiled the primary race for the Democratic nomination for 74th District State Representative — with one of Williams’ opponents, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell — calling him out for accepting the donations.

Como, who remains out on bail while appealing a 23-month prison sentence, after being convicted of misdirecting student funds, came into the local spotlight when a series of racist texts between himself and former Coatesville High School Athletic Director James Donato surfaced. A subsequent Grand Jury investigation led to charges over misuse of school funds and ultimately, a conviction.

Williams’ most recent campaign finance report shows a pair of $100 donations, one on April 7 and another on April 30.

Maxwell — whose campaign initially pointed out the donations — said it was unacceptable for any local State Representative candidate to accept funds from Como, based on his history.

“Richard Como is demonstrably racist and a convicted thief,” Maxwell said. “He hurt CASD and our whole community.  We need leaders who stand up to these bigots, not leaders who cash their checks. Anyone who wants to represent our community should know better.”

Officials from Williams’ campaign said that the donations came in without being solicited — via the campaign’s Website — and will be donated to do good in the community and not used for the campaign.

“Neither Dan Williams, nor his campaign, actively solicited the funds received from Richard Como,” said Kevin Kelly, Treasurer, Citizens for Dan Williams. “They were received as online donations and processed and reported as were all others. The $200 in question is being donated to Coatesville Movement Community Development Corporation (MCDC) to be used for the Ash Park Pool Restoration Project. Dan understands the controversy surrounding this contribution and wanted to have it go to a good cause.”

Williams, for his part, said that as the pastor at New Life In Christ Fellowship Church in Coatesville, he sees the need to allow those who have trespassed to have the opportunity to attempt to redeem themselves.

“It seems Richard Como is someone who has been convicted and will be punished. He’s also requested a public opportunity to ask for forgiveness,” Williams said. “He, like every candidate and citizen has something for which they regret without exception. To live, is to have some measure of regret. Redemption, reconciliation and second chances are things I’ve taught for decades. His acceptance by us is what it looks like, when taken off the black board…and practiced in real life. As a Pastor, my ‘trade’ is redemption. I will bring these sentiments into the political realm whenever possible, as I feel they are tenets everyone should live by.”

Williams said by donating the funds in question to help with the Ash Park Pool, he can get back to discussing more relevant issues in the campaign. 

“We are passing the funds in question on to a charity here in Coatesville to remove any questions of impropriety, and get back to the important issues facing everyone in the 74th District.” Williams said. “I remain focused on improving their quality of life as much as I can.  We can do this by creating sustainable jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, fully funding public education, and lessening the burden of crushing property taxes on homeowners – especially seniors.”

Other Williams’ campaign members expressed some frustration at Maxwell’s decision to make the Como donation a campaign issue.

“This is nothing more than a cheap political stunt pushed by Dan’s opponent, Josh Maxwell, to deflect attention from his own past indiscretions and failing campaigns,” Bill Schoell, Adviser to Dan Williams’ Campaign, and a veteran Chester County political operative. “If anything, it speaks to Maxwell’s desperation after three consecutive losses in this strongly Democratic district.”

Voters in the district will go to the polls, Tuesday, May 15 to decide the Democratic nomination.

Williams, Maxwell and Frank Pryor are battling for the Democratic nomination in next Tuesday’s primary. The winner will take on Amber Little-Turner in a bid to replace retiring State Rep. Harry Lewis Jr.

Williams recently announced endorsements by State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #98, Steamfitters Local #420, Boilermakers Local #13 and the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.

“Dan is a proven, longstanding community leader who I know will serve the constituents of the 74th District very well,” said Dinniman, who has been a State Senator for portions of Chester County since 2006. “He understands the importance of doing all he can for working families and helping with the challenges they face in their everyday lives.”

Previously, Williams announced endorsements from local officials in the 74th, including, Linda Lavender Norris, Coatesville Council President; Debbie Bookman, Coatesville City Council; Carmen Green, Coatesville City Council; Rhett Lipscomb, Parkesburg Borough Council; Patrice Proctor, Valley Township Supervisors, Chair; the Coatesville Area Democrats; the Parkesburg Area Democrats; and Barry Cassidy, Planning & Development Consultant, Downingtown.

Maxwell, meanwhile, has snagged endorsements from the Southeastern Pennsylvania National Organization for Women PAC and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“It’s an honor to be endorsed by a venerated progressive group like NOW,” Maxwell said. “The group is tireless in its work advocating for reproductive justice, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights; combating racism; and putting an end to gender-based violence. I stand firmly with their mission and will bring those feminist, progressive values to Harrisburg as State Representative.”

The SEPA NOW PAC endorses candidates based on a “broad feminist agenda,” including women-focused issues like reproductive rights and gender-based violence, but also progressive issues like economic justice, marriage equality, and constitutional equality.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes is also backing Maxwell.

“Gun violence is one of the most urgent issues facing our community, and I am honored to receive this recognition,” said Maxwell. “Seeing our community—especially our young people—rise up together and stand against gun violence is heartening and inspiring, and elected officials need to continue that work with legislative action in Harrisburg. As state representative, I will make that a priority.”

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